Friday, June 24, 2011

birth of John the baptist: what will this child be?

Isaiah 49:1-6; Ps 139 I praise you, for I am wonderfully made; acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66, 80

John along with Mary are the only two birthdays we celebrate in the liturgy of the Church outside of course, the Birth of Christ himself.

Thus, we must pause today to remind ourselves that the birth of John the Baptist is a big deal. John's birth marks the beginning of the fulfillment of the divine promises: John is the prophet who is destined to be the immediate precursor of the Messiah, to prepare the people for his coming.

He begins what Isaiah speaks of in today's first reading, "my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." God has big plans and John the Baptist is sent to prepare the way for the plan of God to unfold in Christ.

John's life shows us that our life, if it is to be meaningful, must always be "relative" to Christ and is fulfilled by accepting him, which connects us to God's big plans.

The program of life that John the Baptist lived can be summed up in this little phrase pressed upon his lips in the gospel, "He must increase, I must decrease." Here in lies the program of our lives.

Here in lies the answer to the question posed in the gospel, "What, then, will this child be?"

The million dollar question that is pressed upon the lips of many parents as they hold their children in their arms and watch they grow. Most parents have big dreams.

None had bigger dreams than God the Father. But then again this is no dream. This child shall become the "voice" crying in the wilderness to "prepare the way of the Lord." This Child shall stand before the crowd and point at Christ and proclaim, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

This child is the voice of the ages because He points toward the eternal Word himself, Jesus the Christ.

The beauty of John the Baptist is that he never speaks just to hear himself talk. Every time he opens his mouth, it is filled with meaning and leaves a lasting impact. He never says anything that didn't mean something. There are no careless words that leave his mouth; all are spoken directly and assertively and purposefully.

Every word is directed toward the Word, the face of God in Christ. Never upon the lips of John the Baptist do we find those words often thrown about in our life, "I didn't mean anything by it." John means something and this something is a someone, Christ.

We should imitate John so that our life work is to point toward the face of God in Jesus. We should not busy ourselves with pointing fingers at others because of their presumed hypocrisy or faults but rather simply point toward Christ and allow his goodness and gentleness to be radiant and thus transforming. Point to toward Christ so that others may begin to see Christ in themselves and those around them. This alone brings about conversion.

This alone invites all to become part of God's big plans.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Genesis 16:1-12,15-16; Psalm 106 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; Matt 7:21-29

In the gospel for today we hear these words from Jesus,

"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name? Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you, Depart form me, yo evil doers."

First of all, obviously or at least seems to me to be obvious that, "on that day" refers to the end of time and the beginning of eternity. This is judgment, this is the last judgement, when we shall meet the Lord face to face.

Think about that moment for a moment. What would we say in that moment?

In dying every man arrives at the moment of truth. There is no concealment, no hiding.

What is shocking about the the people referred to in the gospel is what they say. In the moment of truth, looking into the face of Christ who redeemed them, whose blood was spilled for them, they sing their own praises.

"Lord, Lord, did we not...."

Self-praise before the Lord who deserves our praise.

What audacity! What perversion! No wonder Jesus' response is what it is, "I never knew you. Depart from me yo evil doers."

Think again about the response of Jesus, "I never knew you."

Jesus did not know them because they did not know him. They knew about him but they did not get to know him. They were too busy stroking their own egos.

Be on the look out for self-praise. So what is our response then.

Perhaps the psalmist has it right, "give thanks to the Lord, for he is good."

Self-praise becomes praise of him. This is our proper response when standing before the Lord on our knees in thanksgiving.

Thus, thanksgiving is preparation for that day when it comes.

This is how we prepare for the moment of truth. Giving thanks and praise prepares us for the moment that awaits us.

On earth as it is in heaven....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Credit line of faith

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

"He took him outside and said:
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness."

Just a bit today on our first reading. Now to get the full impact of today's selection you have read the entire section otherwise you will miss the beauty of Abram's faith.

Before this particular section I have copied above, Abram is complaining to God because he remains childless. HE questions God as to how he can be a father of many if he doesn't even have one heir. This is a pretty good question to pose.

So in order to get Abram to relax and trust, God takes him outside and ask Abram to look around and to count the stars.

In other words god tells Abram, "lets take this outside."

Now go back to you childhood for a moment. Remember those days when you would look up into the night sky and try to count the stars. I am sure we have all tried to count stars at least once in our life. Each time we attempted it, we got quickly overwhelmed by the vastness of the sky and we lost count because of the beauty and awe that filled us.

Now this isn't what happens to Abram.

At first glance we think this may be the case, but if you read further in this particular passage of Genesis ch 15 you discover that God takes Abram outside to count stars in the middle of the day.

Here is the rest of the passage for your reading enjoyment:

He then said to him,
“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession.”
“O Lord GOD,” he asked,
“how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
He answered him,
“Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought him all these, split them in two,
and placed each half opposite the other;
but the birds he did not cut up.
Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,
but Abram stayed with them.
As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,
and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark,
there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,
which passed between those pieces.
It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: “To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates."

Notice that the sun doesn't set until after Abram gets the animals for the sacrifice,
which means of course it was still day when God ask Abram to count the stars in the sky.

Now, think about that for a moment. God asks Abram to count the stars in the sky during the middle of the day. The stars are not yet out while the sun is shining. They are present but they are shielded form sight because of the light of the sun.

Now imagine Abram's surprise when God took him outside and asked him to count the stars in the middle of the day. What a lesson to learn.

St. Paul put it this way, "we walk by faith not by sight."

God invites Abram to be patient. God asks Abram to trust what he cannot see and to not let his sight bring blindness to his life of faith.

How often do we let our sight, what we see or not see, bring blindness to our life of faith?

When in doubt, step outside in the middle of the day and count the stars and be credited as one who is righteous.

This is the credit we live our life on. The credit line of faith helps us move beyond the line of sight that often hinders our ability to surrender, to love, to hope, to believe.

A simple lesson for today as we walk by faith and not by sight.

In the words of god to Abram that begin the passage, "Fear not..."

A little prose from A.J. Cronin:

"Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered,
but a maze of passage through which we must seek our way lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.

But always, if we have faith God will open a door for us,
not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but
one that will ultimately prove good for us."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

HOly Trinity

This past week Friday I was invited to a parishioners house to delve into her Genealogical research. She informed me that we were related through her late husband's family.

So i went and sure enough, we were related. My great, great, great grandfather and his great grandfather were the same person.

Johann Christ was the root of our relation. Johann's oldest son is my great great grandfather. In fact, JOhann, i discovered to my delight is buried in High Hill cemetery, the place I have been serving for the past year. IN fact, I spent friday afternoon at his grave sight.

It was neat to discover that i have a little Christ's blood in me....if you don't mind the play on words.

As I was looking through the records I was surprised to discover that through my great great great grandfather I was related, though distantly, to many of the parishioners here in Schulenburg.

What a small world. IN fact, when you do Genealogical digging, I discovered that the furthest you go back the more likely you are related to people you never thought possible.

THis discovery changes how one relates with others. I found my self feeling different and wanting to be better.

This is some degree is what the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity is about. This feast is about who God is from all eternity. IT takes all back to our root, where we all come from.

We come from that eternal communion of love that seeks to create space for the other. THis communion of love that is distinct yet the same. God doesn't have love but rather he is love, love that reaches outward toward the other.

This is the root of our life, the connect that binds us all together.
This is important. We are made in the image and likeness of God. Thus, who God is determines who we are called to be. God's revelation is our illumination.

IF we are to ever reach our potential that we too must learn to be as God is, that communion of love that doesn't seek it self in love but rather seeks to give that love away. Here in lies the source of our joy and happiness.

Remember the first words spoken by God in Genesis that is negative. Adam is alone in the garden with the animals and eve has not yet arrived and God speaks, "It is not good for man to be alone."

Why is it not good to be alone. Alone we can never enter into that mutual exchange of giving and receiving love. Only with another can we become who we are created to be and truly realize our identity and purpose as being made in the image and likeness of God.

Only in communion can we truly experience the truth our being. W eare all different but we are all the same in love as revealed by God as a Most HOly Trinity

Friday, June 17, 2011


Today we hear these words from Jesus from the gospel of Matthew, "Store up treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is, there also your heart will be." Matthew 6:19-23

What occupies your heart most of the days and nights will reveal to your where you have decided to place your hopes and dreams. What occupies your heart shows you what treasure you have set your eyes upon.

Where is your treasure? Have you stored up treasure in heaven?

Do you want the treasure Christ offers for you?

We put many things way that we value; but how often do we have others put things away for us they value most of all?

I talked to my little nephew today who was going to the bank in shiner because they wanted to stash away some old coins they had purchased. They did not want to lose it.

Christ has stashed away a treasure for us. He values us that much. He does not want us to lose it. In fact the treasure is us who arrive where we are called. Jesus said he has prepared a place for us. He has prepared a place for us because he values us that much.

The place has been prepared for the treasure that God sees in us.

DO we want it? Do we live for it? Is our heart where our treasure is?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

OUr Father revisited

"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...
Give us this day our daily bread...
forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us..
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen."

what i want you to pay attention to is what Jesus says right before He gives the disciples this prayer.

"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him..."

Think about that for a moment. Jesus acknowledges that we are needed. HE acknowledges that our needs are not known to us alone but are known by the Father. Then he gives us this prayer, which means this prayer is an answer to our needs but also a guide to help us understand exactly what we need.

Left to our own devices we want more than we need. ANd because of original sin we mistake our wants for our needs which usually gets us into hot water and if not hot then at least deep.

So if we analyze the prayer then we discover our basic needs in life that leads us and guide us home.

What do we need? There is the million dollar question.

There are five basic needs of the human person as it journeys forth in the spiritual life...

1) OUr Father who are in heaven hallowed be thy name...this is an invitation to adoration. The human person needs to adore something greater than its self. We need to adore the Father. This is a basic necessity of life.

2)Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...This is an invitation to surrender. WE are invited to surrender to God's plan in our life. We need to let God's plan become our plan. Our often do our expectations interfere with God's workings. This surrender means God's will must be done in us on earth. Every person undergoes an experience of the agony on the garden, "Let this come pass but be not my will but yours."

3)Give us this day our daily bread...we do not live on bread alone, at least ordinary bread. In greek word for daily in this context is supernatural or supersubstantial. Our sustenance does not revolve around ordinary food but rather we need food that comes from God. Is this not the Eucharist, the bread of angels given by God for our nourishment. This is the bread we should knock at heavens door for each day. This is what we should hunger for.

4) Forgive us or trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us...this is an invitation for us to be like God. Lord, make our hearts like yours that we may do as you do. Forgiveness is not an option but a reality of life. We forgive because while we were sinners Christ died for us. HE did not wait for us to say we were sorry. His pride did not interfere with his ability to reach out to us long before we ever reached for him.

5) lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil...
God alone must escort through life. We need his guidance because we are weak and in need of his strength. We are reminded as we say this that we are not as strong as we think we are. We must stay connected by begging the lord to strengthen us daily and giving us the insight necessary so that we do not put ourselves in harms way.

Just a little reflection.

The five basic food groups are necessary for healthy living. The Our Father lays bare the basic necessity of the interior life as we seek to keep and guard a healthy relationship with God in Christ by the Spirit and with one another.

will of God done in us

Matthew 6

Today JEsus teaches us to pray, "Our Father who are in HEaven, Hallowed be thy name....thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."

This prayer according to St. Augustin is a compendium of the gospel. IT teaches us everything we need to know and do in order to follow Christ faithfully.

St Cyprian reminds us as we pray, "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" that we should be reminded that God's will is done in us. His will is to be done in us and we cannot do this without his strength, his help, his protection. JEsus is the one in the garden that shows us the way; his agony is the preparation and educational tool necessary for us to understand how to surrender so that God's will shall be made known in and through us.

What is the will of God according to St. Cyprian,

"Humility in our daily lives, an unwavering faith, a moral sense of modesty in conversation, justice in acts, mercy in deed, discipline, refusal to harm others, a readiness to suffer harm, peacebleness with our brothers, a whole hearted love of the Lord, loving in him what is of the Father, fearing him because he is God, preferring nothing to him who preferred nothing t us, clinging tenaciously to his love, standing by his cross with loyalty and courage whenever there is any conflict involving his honor or name, manifesting in our speech the constancy of our profession and under torture confidence for the fight, and in dying the endurance for which we will be crowned-this is what it means to be a coheir with Christ, to keep God's command: this is what it means to do the will of the Father."

St. Cyprian pray for us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104 1 Corinthians 12:3-13; JOhn 20:19-23

This past Sunday we wrapped up the Easter Season with the celebration of Pentecost. God sends His Spirit to animate the human heart and thus empower and inspire the Apostles to spread the message of Christ who was dead but now is risen.

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. It is also the birth of our mission on earth.

When you look at the readings there is one thing that jumped out to me. One line from the Psalm was striking.

We usually do not pay much attention to the psalm but they are worth our attention.

In Psalm 104, the ancient writers begs that "be pleasing to Him be my theme."

HE begs the Lord that his theme be pleasing to Him. This is a strange sentence.

Think about what a theme is for a moment. A theme is the main idea or that message which dominates a story. It is that which leaves a lasting impression.

Themes are every where in our society. Every birthday party has a theme of some sort. My little nephew often has Spiderman theme party where the cake, the presents, the balloons are all Spiderman related.

I have presided at many weddings where they all have different themes. Some of them are western themes where all wear cowboy boots and hats.

Thematic parties and celebrations had a little flavor to our life.
So here is the big question. What is the theme of our life?

What dominates our life? What is the lasting impression people get from the way we live our life?

If you are not sure then answer these two questions: What do you celebrate and what do you talk about most often.

These two questions will reveal your theme. Is this pleasing to the Lord.

What do you celebrate in life? What do yo talk about?

When is the last time you celebrated what God has done in your life? When have you celebrated what God has empowered you to do in and with your life?

What do yo talk about? When is the last time your shared what God has done in your life? When is the last time you gossiped about God or Christ or the Spirit animating your life?
Pentecost was a Jewish feast. It was a feast of thanksgiving. The JEws would pull an all nighter to give thanks to GOd for the good harvest, for his revelation, and for the Mosaic covenant.

THis is what the celebrated. This is what they talked about.

They celebrated the fact that God has made himself known. God keeps silence no longer but has chosen to speak to them through the patriarchs and the prophets. They also would celebrate the mosaic covenant where God said, "Ill will be your God and you will be my people."

In the covenant God gives the people a home, a place to belong and the commandments were an opportunity to turn guidelines into lifelines.

THis was the celebration of Pentecost, 50 days after the passover.

In the midst of this celebration the SPirit is sent to empower the Apostles to stand before 5000 and proclaim the "mighty acts of God."

The Spirit gave the apostles the gift of gab to talk about christ, who is the mighty act of God, and to celebrate that with their life. This defined them.

THis is how we live in the Spirit. We have all been given drink of the same Spirit.

Why do we not celebrate the mighty Acts of God in our life? Why do we not talk about Christ in our life. We belong to the biggest pentecostal church, the pentecostal church and yet we remain silent and celebrate not.

We must pray each day that God renews us with his SPirit so that we may recognize his workings in our life so we can share and celebrate and keep the message alive.

Monday, June 13, 2011

june 10th revisited: "follow me"

John 21:15-19

This past weekend I was on a retreat with young people so i was unable to keep up with the blog-o-sphere. So Iw anted to revisit some of the readings from this past weekend. THey are worth chewing on.

This past Friday we read from the end of the gospel of John.

What is interesting about the reading are the words of Christ to St. Peter. The last words spoken to St. Peter from the lips of christ according to John's gospel are a repeat of the first words Peter heard from the mouth of Christ, "follow me."

If you think all the words spoken by Christ to his disciples, to the scribes and pharisees, to the sick and poor, to the outcast and all the other unnamed faces Christ encountered, these words really are a summary of all the words, "follow me."

When we pray, we beg the Lord to respond or act in our life is not always asking us to follow him and let him lead. Is this not where trust and surrender begin to be the formative movement of the human heart to God.

Follow me.

Think about Peter for a moment. Think about what had all transpired from the first moment he heard those words to the last moment he heard those words. Think about all the living he experienced with Christ at his side.

Peter was there when Jesus walked on water; Peter was there when Jesus calmed the storm; Peter was there when the sick were healed, the eyes of the blind were open, the lame were commanded to walk and new spring was added in there step. Peter was there when the leprosy was cured and the dead were raised.

Peter was there when the insults and shouts were hurled at Christ. Peter heard the threats as the scribes and Pharisees wanted to stone JEsus. Peter was there on the mount of Beatitudes. Peter was there when the transfiguration occurred; Peter was there in the upper room.

Peter was there in the garden and witnessed the agony; slept through the agony. Peter was there for the arrest, the imprisonment; the abandonment. Peter was there when the rooster crowed and cross was carried. Peter saw the crucifixion and witnessed the death. Peter was there when the tomb was opened and JEsus was raised.

Peter was in the upper room when JEsus came showed his wounds. Peter was there.

Don't you think the words "follow me: took on a whole new meaning and force in his life.

JEsus was asking Peter not just follow anyone but rather to follow the one who had shown himself to be true.

IS this not what our hearts longs for. Do we not want to find true love? Has christ shown himself to be true and faithful.

Is not this only one worth following.

Follow me. These are the words that fill the heart of the disciple with courage, strength, and a desire to put one foot in front of the other and let oneself be led.

Follow me. These are the first and last words that a disciple needs to hear.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

consume fire

today June 9th, we remember St. Ephrem, deacon in the early church (306-373). He was a preacher, theologian, and care giver.

St. Ephrem died because he contracted the plague while caring for those already affected, nursing the sick and preparing them for death.

St. Ephrem teaches us to place every expectation in the Lord and then simply live life in charity.

Here is a snippet of his writings, On the Nativity of CHrist:

"The Lord entered Mary, and became a servant; the Word entered her, and became silent within her; thunder entered her, and his voice was still; the shepherd of all entered her; he became a Lamb in her, and came forth bleating....Rich he went in, and came out poor; the High one went in her, and came out lowly...He who gives food to all went in, and knew hunger, He who gives drink to all went in, and knew thirst. Naked and bare came forth from her the clother of all things in beauty."

On the Eucharist, he states,
"In your bread hides the Spirit who cannot be consumed; in your wine is the fire that can not be swallowed. The Spirit in your bread, fire in your wine; behold a wonder heard from our lips...we have consumed the fire in the bread and have been invigorated."

In the EUcharist we consume the fire of God and are sent a blaze. What an image!

Today;s gospel is touching for all of us. Jesus, in the midst of his farewell address, takes a detour and prays for us, "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that the world may believe you sent me...Father they are your gift to me..."

Jesus dies praying for us. St. Paul i the letter of HEbrews reminds us that he forever intercedes for us.

In the midst of his prayer Jesus turns to the Father and prays in thanksgiving, "Father, they are your gift to me."

We are the Father's gift to JEsus. We are a gift.

Today live your life as a gift. Rediscover your true value.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

more blessed to give than receive

A word from our Pope

"God becomes a man, but in order to be ignored by his contemporaries and influential forces in history ... He continually knocks in the quietest way on the doors of our hearts, and if we open ourselves to him, he slowly makes us able to ‘see’"...

"Being Christian is not a type of outfit one wears in private or on special occasions but it is living and totalizing..."

Today we continue to hear from St. PAul as he bids farewell, Acts 20:28-38.

Listen to the warning and exhortation he gives...
"Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus: 'keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy SPirit has appointed you overseers...I know after my departure savage wolves will come among you , and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw disciples away after them..."

We must be on the look out. THere are some things we should never tolerate and the perversion of the truth is top on that list.
Now a days, when we see people living in perversion of the truth, we simply nod our head and say, "well, whatever works for them" or "they can believe what they want."

Can they? Should they? At what point does the truth no longer become the truth? At point do we say enough is enough with opinions running wild?

Be on the look out for wolves...the bounty is high, for error and salvation do not mix well.

Also, it is in this same passage that Paul quotes Jesus, "keep in mind the words of the Lord JEsus who himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

This is the only time St. Paul directly quotes a saying from JEsus Christ. Remember the only encounter we have of Paul and JEsus is on the way to Damascus where Paul meets the resurrected Christ. But time and time again Paul describes Jesus being close to him as an intimate friend.

Nonetheless of all the quotes that JEsus is known for we should ask, why this one. Why is the one Paul chooses to leave with the community as he departs and bids farewell?

Hear the quote again, "IT is more blessed to give than to receive."

This little phrase describes the entire life Christ. This is what Christ comes to do; He comes to give. This is also a description for who God is from all eternity. God is the giver. He gives.

This also is the description that best describes what we Christians are all about. We too must focus on giving.

How often all we talk about or all we are concerned with is what we get or don't get; what we receive or don't receive. Should we not let the measure of our life be about how we sow not reap; what we give not get.

Is not our life to be measured by the cross of Christ, the one who lays down his life for his friends.

It is more blessed to give than to receive because this is the reality the christian is asked to live and embrace.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


"I began to experience once more that feeling of timelessness-and, what was worse, of purposelessness-as the days went on and on, always with the same routine. and yet, I never lost sight of God's Providence. I knew that nothing was too small or insignificant in life when looked on from the standpoint of His will...religion, prayer, and love of God do not change reality, but they give it a new meaning...I grew firmer in my conviction that whatever happened in my life was nothing else than a reflection of God's will for me. and He would protect me."

These are words written and lived by Walter Ciszek S.J. (Jesuit priest) who was held in Russian prison during WWII.

In Acts 20:17-27 we her the words of St. Paul

"YOU know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia. I served the lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews, and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes...Now compelled by the SPirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet, I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord, to bear witness to the Gospel of God's grace."

When we reflect on God's providence, we can not limit how or when or in what way God will act. All things become useful to him. Even imprisonment can be a vehicle by which is glory is made known.

How often we close our heart to the grandeur of God becomes we experience hardship or trial or something doesn't go our way, when we should stop and think, Even this God can use and ma i never stand in his way.

The words of Jesus in today's gospel passage brings this together.

"Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that you son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him."

How does that glory come? How does Providence bring about the glory sought? We must not forget the Paschal mystery: life, death and resurrection. Suffering and trials and tears can and often is Providence of God.

Just something to ponder.

The above image: Our Lady of Divine Providence

Think well. Speak well. Do well. These three things, through the mercy of God, will make a man go to Heaven. — St. Camillus de Lellis

Sunday, June 5, 2011


When I was a freshman at Texas A&M, I signed up to attend fishcamp. Fishcamp was an orientation for incoming freshman in order to get us prepared for what was college life. We spent a lot of time learning the ropes, especially the traditions (whoop).

They also tried to tell us about pitfalls we should avoid in order to survive the first year at college.

One session, they gathered us together and asked us who inspired us. They wanted to know who we looked to for inspiration in our life.

THis is a common question many of us are asked.

Especially when we are young, people often want to know what or who in life inspires us or how we encounter inspiration.

Think for a moment about all the so called "inspirational" stories we get via email, or someone tells us about, or hallmark movies that are made.

These are usually sad stories that get better. They start off tragic but some how find a somewhat happy ending. They usually involve persevrance, challenges, hard knocks along the way, some sort of abandonment only to culminate in a sense of victory.

But of all the inspirational stories, should not the story of Christ be "the" inspirational story that gets us moving.

HE expereinced tragedy, abandonment, betrayal. He experienced condemnation and sentencing to death though innocent. HE was laughed at and ridiculed and spit on. He was beaten and crucified and killed.

But today in the Feast of the Ascension we see how the story culminates.

He now ascends to his father in heaven and sits on the right hand.

Talk about from rags to riches.

The transformative power of fidelity is highlighted in the ascension of Christ.

Christ takes our humanity and inserts it completely into God himself.
This is our destiny. We are made for something greater. We are made for something more. We are no longer earth bound.

We are made to soar.

Now if this doesn't inspire then nothing will.

Not only does Christ inpsire us, he fills us with his very life with the gift the Spirit in baptism and sends us out to do what he does. We are now in empowered with making the kingdom come.

This is what the great commission is all about" Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Christ wants to win the world over to himself and he asks us to be his instruments.

IT all started with 11 Galileans. What a crew, what a story, what a life. These weren't the perfect men. They had a history of disappointments. They were reckless, stubborn, ambitious. They abandoned Christ in crunch time. They denied Christ to save their skin. Yet here were the one Jesus chose. They seem to be a bit like us.

The Feast of the Ascension and the Great Commission remind me of the story of Leonardo De Vinci.

The great artist had started on one of his master pieces. He prepared the canvas, sketched the drawing, he started to apply colors and texture and then about 1/3 way into the project he stopped. He went up to one of his students and invited the student to finsh it.

The student was shocked. HE felt inadequate and unworthy to fill in for the great Leonardo de Vinci. SO he went to the master and told him that he was goign to decline th eoffer becasue he was unable and unworthy. Leonardo de Vinci responded, "will you not let what I started inspire you to do your best."

In some sense this is the great commission. Jesus has done the hardwork. He has the power and jurisdiction over heaven and earth and he promises to be with us always until the end of the age.

Should we not let what he started inspire us to do, to go forth and build the kingdom by the lives we live.

In the words of the Acts of the Apostles on the lips of the two angels as the apsotles watch JEsus ascend, "why do yuo stand there staring in to the heavens" in other words, 'don't just stand there do something."

We now as his disicples make the kingdom come on earth as it is is in heaven.

What a gift to us. what a beautiful feast today. Christ ascends and so do we. Our hearts and minds are elevated and we are inspired to follow his lead.

We do not have to go to the ends of the earth. Rather, we start on person at a time.

A story is told of a woman who attended on of Billy Graham's conferences on discipleship. Afterwards she felt called to preach the gospel, to leave it all behind and be a missionary. She wrote the reverend Graham a letter detailing her experience and how she felt God put it on her heart to be a missionary,a herald of the gospel. But she had one small problem, she stated. She had 12 children and did not know what to do with them.

Billy Graham wrote back that he was delighted that she had felt God call her to such greatness in proclaiming the gospel. He was also much delighted in the fact that God has already provided her with a congregation of 12.

Each day God prepares a congregation for each of us: our spouse, our chillren, our employees, our co-workers, the passer-bys on the street, the strangers, and all we encounter. These are the ones God has prepared for each of us to make the kingdom realized.

We do not have to go to the far corners of the world; we simply have to be open to those right before us each and every day.

Go forth, make disciples; use your hands and your feet and the heart that beats in your chest and thus on earth as it is in heaven will the kingdom be.

en espanol: por los critianos se habla

Han pasado ochenta y ocho dias (88) desde que nos hemos reunido como una comunidad para empezaer nuestro retiro annual llamado “Cuaresma”. Hemos viajado juntos a traves de esos 40 dias de ayuno, oracion y limosna.

Esos 40 dias han dado paso a estos 48 dias pasados de Jubilo de Pascua donde recibimos el mensaje que nos dice que Cristo ha resucitdo y la muerte ha sido destruida.

Regresemos atras al comienzo de la Cuaresma. Fuimos invitados a examinar nuestras vidas y buscar el renovamiento y a abrir nuestros corazones al poder de Cristo quien viene a transformarnos.

La primera lectura nos dice que Jesus se presento vivo ante sus discipulos despues de la resurreccion, ellos lo vieron, lo escucharon, lo tocaron, y comieron con el. Esta presencia era la invitacion a una nueva vida.

No es esto lo que queremos? No es esta la razon por la cual venimos a recibir cenizas sobre nuestras frentes hace ochenta y ocho dias (88). Nosotros queriamos que la renovacion de la vida se hiciera cargo. Queriamos que el poder de Cristo nos fortaleciera, a nuestros esposos o esposas, nuestros hijos, nuestra familia, y nuestra vida.

Queriamos ver a Cristo vivo y activo en nuesto viaje.

Asi que venimos con promesas en la mano, buscando hacer sacrificios, , con la esperanza y el deseo de un cambio, un impulso, por un proposito.

Procesamos por el pasillo con la cabeza agachada, con las manos en posicion de rezar y nuestros corazones y mentes buscando y dispuestos.

La Cuaresma empieza con estas palabras, " recuerda que eres polvo y en polvo te convertiras" mientras las cenisas eran inscritas sobre nuestras frentes.

Empezamos con un acto de humildad. Fuimos recordados que solo eramos polvo vivo en las manos de Dios. Todos somos iguales. Tenemos vida porque Dios nos la dio y no hay alguna otra razon.

Somos recordados de esto no solo durante la Cuaresma, pero en cada funeral cuando escuchamos las palabras del sacerdote, " Puesto que Dios te ha llamado a nuestro hermano a si mismo, nosotros entregamos su cuerpo a la tierra, puesto que somos polvo y en polvo nos convertiremos."

Muchos de nosotros somos tentados a parar aqui. Somos tentados a vivir como si la muerte fuera el fin y el polvo nuestro destino. Tratamos de hacer nuestra vida acerca de las cosas del mundo y siempre tratamos de obtener tanto como nos es posible y nunca pensamos sobre lo que esta mas alla.

Por esta razon terminamos tratandonos a nosotros mismos y a los demas como si fueramos polvo, y de esa misma manera actuamos y hablamos, por lo que elegimos pensar, como nos vencemos ante la lujuria y el placer o al empezar a tomar?
Nos negamos a la reconciliacion o a ofrecer el perdon; guardamos rencor y odio, la caridad se hace menos mientras que el deseo y la lujuria aumentan.

Nos quedamos con dolor y tristeza, desesperacion, con un vacio y con una irreverencia para toda la vida.

Pero algo nuevo pasa hoy. Nuestra cuaresma ha venido en un circulo lleno.

Mientras celebramos la fiesta de la Ascencion de Jesus al Cielo, descubrimos que nuestras vidas no estan vinculadas con la tierra. No solo somos destinados a ser polvo. En Cristo, quien tomo nuestra humanidad al cielo, nosotros recibimos una mayor dignindad y una promesa mayor de algo mas.

Nuestra vida encuentra un proposito. Jesus toma nuestra humanidad, nuestra mortalidad, nuestro cuerpo y sangre, nuestro polvo vivo y lo une con Dios asi mismo.

Ahora estamos en comunion con Dios. Uno como nosotros en el cielo ha habierto la puerta para que todos la sigan.

Ahora tenemos algo en lo cual tener esperanza, algo mas que desear, nuestra meta esta mas alla de nuestro alcance.

Cristo aciende y nos invita a acender con el. Cristo cambiara nuestros cuerpos mortales a que sea como el de el en la Gloria.

La ascension de Jesus es una grandeza verdadera que nos espera. Esta es nuestra motivacion. Esto es lo que nos lleva a amar diferentemente, para perdonar a esos quienes nos lastiman, para darle la espalda al deseo y la lujuria y tomar y asi prepararnos para la gloria, la cual ha sido preparada para nosotros en Cristo.

La receta de la granceza ha sido puesta a nuestros pies. Somos enviados a propagar el mensaje, para convertirnos en discipulos y para hacer discipulos. En nuestra obediencia a Dios, somos exaltados a la grandeza.

La humildad de obediencia nos abre el camino hacia la exaltacion de la grandeza. Nosotros ascendemos con Cristo mientras que seguimos verdaderamente su guia a lo largo de nuestras vidas. No somos vinculados a la tierra. Vivamos como si el polvo no fuera el fin. Levantemos nuestros ojos hacia el Cielo donde encontramos los ojos de Cristo quien nos espera.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Marriage revisited

Marriage is not romanticized in the creation account. Its ideal purpose is not one of sweet feeling, tender words, poetical affections or physical satisfactions--not "love" as the world defines love in all its nasal songs and its popular shallow stories. Marriage is meant to be flatly practical. One human alone is help-LESS, unable.

But "Two are better than one," says Ecclesiastes, "Because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift the other." Marriage makes the job of survival possible. And the fact that a spouse is termed a "helper" declares marriage was never an end in itself, but a preparation.

We've accomplished no great thing, yet, in getting married. We have completed a relationship (though many a fool assumes that the hard work's done with the wedding and turns attention to other interests). Rather, we've established the terms by which we now will go to work. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

question no longer

Acts 18:9-18; Psalm 47 God is king of all the earth; John 16:20-23

In the first reading we encounter St. Paul having a vision: "the Lord said to him in a vision, "Do not be Afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack or harm you, for I have many people in this city."

What a nice bit of consolation and encouragement Paul receives in this vision. Do not be afraid. Go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you...for I have many people in this city.

This can be consolation for us as well. We too must hear again that invitation "do not be afraid."

Let this fill your hearts and minds for a moment. What are yo afraid of? Bring all of your fears to mind. Name them each one by one. Face each of them and stare them in down. As you think and experience your fears, hear the words of Christ again and let them refresh you, "Do not be Afraid."

Think about the last part of the vision as well, "I have many people in this city."

Jesus as people that we do not no about waiting to assist us. They are around every corner, on every road, in every home. THey are present and active no unknown to us they are always known to God. This too is encouraging. We are not alone in our desire to follow Christ. We are not alone in our desire to live faithfully and love more fully.

There are others out there. The world is not filled with evil. There is goodness already present even before we get there.

We have met these people already. We are also these people ourselves for others. Be thankful that yo do not go alone.

In the hidden recesses of the city, in the market place, in the work place, in the school, in the store, in the park, the people of Christ fill the universe, the mystical body of Christ is active.

Now we turn to the gospel. JEsus in chapter 16 of John's gospel speaks thus, "But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything."

Jesus will see us again. Our hearts will rejoice. More importantly, our questions will be answered. THink about all the question you have rolling around in your heart and in your mind. Daily you are bombarded with questions of 'how', of 'why' of 'what now' and the list goes on. When our life doesn't make sense or the life of others leaves us unsure, we have questions that build one on the other, like a wall they keep God closed in and cornered.

Yet, JEsus tells us on that day we will not question him again. The questions will be answered. And what is the answer to these questions? We will see him again, our joy will be full and this joy will be eternal. We shall be filed with the sight of his glory and the glorious face of Christ shall be the answer we seek.

All questions are answered in the moment of vision, when we shall see him as he is and we shall know fully.

God whose king of all the earth shall be the only answer we need.

What day that shall be. Our questions shall give way to vision. The answer to the question is the joy we shall experience that can never be taken away.

What a promise! What a gift!

Novena to the Holy SPirit

Today begins our novena to the Holy spirit as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit, next Sunday.

Spend some time reading the story of the Descent of the Spirit in Acts chapter 2.
Read Galatians Chapter 5 as St. Paul speaks about life in the Spirit as he list the fruits of the Spirit.
Read 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

Here is a prayer to the Holy Spirit to get you going.

Come, O Holy Spirit:
enlighten my understanding
to know your commands;
strengthen my heart
against the wiles of the enemy;
inflame my will…
I have heard your voice,
and I don’t want to harden
my heart by resisting,
by saying ‘later…tomorrow.”
Nunc coepi! Now!
Lest there be no tomorrow for me!
O, Spirit of truth and wisdom,
Spirit of understanding and counsel,
Spirit of joy and peace!
I want what you want,
I want it because you want it,
I want it as you want it,
I want it when you want it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dynamic Duo

Today is the feast of St. Marcelinus and St. Peter. Marcelinus was a priest and Peter assisted him in his ministry. They were a dynamic duo for Christ in the early church. They were a force for good as they journeyed through the 3rd and 4th century. They endured imprisonment, nasty treatment all the while leading others to Christ by their example, even those who held them captive.

For their death, they were taken to the woods, charged with clearing a space and then digging their own grave before being beheaded and buried. Later, the guards who led them to their death experienced a conversion as well.

The Hagiographer, the one who writes the story of the lives of saints, states that they were brave in the practice of their faith.

Here is something to ponder for today. How are we brave in the practice of our faith?

They were eager to live their faith in boldness even when they knew everything was on the line. They neither wavered nor hesitated.

To be brave means to be daring, bold, and even defiant.

How are we daring for Christ? How are we bold in our living the Christian faith? How are we difiant in Christ against the world that assaults us daily?

We need bravery if our faith is truly going to bear witness.
These days bravery consist in choosing to not live with your girlfriend before marriage. Bravery consist in being chaste in your relationships. Bravery consist in setting aside time for prayer and recollection. Bravery consist in going to mass every Sunday.
Bravery isn't what it use to be but nonetheless it is still demanding and dynamic.

The dynamic duo of MArcelinus and Peter, pray for us.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

offspring of God

Words from St. PAul from the first reading today taken from Acts 17:15-18:1

"In him we live and move and have our being as even as some of your poets have said, for we to are his offspring. SInce therefore we are the offspring of God....

Here is a thought to ponder. We are offspring of God. Certainly gives new meaning to the old adage, "whose your Daddy."

The unknown God of the ancients is no longer unknown. He has revealed himself in Christ. In Christ not only has he revealed himself but he has revealed ourselves to us as well. We are no longer just creatures. We are o longer flesh and bone. We are more.

God gives us the proper estimation and value of our lives; we are his children. This is high marks. What would the world look like if we actually lived this value in our daily lives. What would the world look like if we addresses each other as offspring of God.

A few weeks back we celebrated the Royal wedding in England. The royal family certainly got "royal" treatment of pomp and circumstance. But how much should each of us get that not because of the family we are born into or the money bags that hang around our necks but because of Christ who has called us each Sons and daughters of God.

In the words of JEsus from the gospel of John, "I go to my father and your Father, my God and your God."

SIt with this thought today: offspring of God. THen live it.

Today we also celebrate the feast of Justin Martyr. Here are a few words from the Martyr who lived in the the 2nd century.

"And on the day called SUnday there is a meeting in one place who live in cities or country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. when the reader has finished, the president in a discourse urges and invites us to imitation of these noble things. then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And bread is brought forth, and wine and water, and the presider similarly sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying Amen; the distribution and reception of the consecrated elements by each one takes place."

"This food we call Eucharist, in which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing of forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us."

"We have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."

Even back then the church was very particular with who could receive. There was no come as you are and help yourself. Rather the church guarded the sacred mystery of the Eucharist. Do we guard it today.

Here is a little satire on modern worship service in light of the ancient mass: click here

word from the Pope on St. Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr was an apologist, "to defend the newborn christianity, and the positive missionary concern , to explain the content of the faith in a language and on a wavelength comprehensible to their contemporaries."

"pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom GOd and his Christ have imparted wisdom."